As I’m sitting here scrolling through my Facebook feed and scanning the news, I’m thinking, why is it that we all disagree so much? Can’t we ever come to some consensus? What makes tempers flare and blood boil so fast? In the words of a person from the recent past, ‘can’t we all just get along? ‘
The short answer is no, we can’t.
Well why not? In a word, WORLDVIEW.
Worldview is the way we understand what reality is. It’s how we see everything around us. Worldview forms the foundation for everything we hold dear, believe, and how we think and act. Our worldview drives who we are.
There are many pillars that make up the foundation of our worldview. Let me describe a few:
Truth – Is it absolute or relative? Is there an objective reality or is everything just my perspective?
God – Is there a god? What is the nature of god?
Mankind – Were we created or have we evolved? Do we exist for just this lifetime or is there something after this life? Are we basically good or bad or neither?
Morality – Are ethics and morality absolute and permanent or relative and situational?
Personality and Identity – Are they inherent or learned, nature or nurture, fixed or changeable?
I’m sure there are many, many others and some I don’t even see because of my worldview.
Most of these pillars are so closely entertwined that the answer to one necessarily influences the other, i.e. if the is no God, mankind can’t be created nor do we owe any allegiance to Him. Or if there is no absolute truth then there can be no absolute morality.
Society’s varied, sometimes antithetical, answers to these questions helps to explain why it seems we’re always fighting about what seems patently obvious to us. Obviously, if we are products of natural evolution, then to speak of a God who has made us and expects something from us is nonsensical. Likewise obviously, if there is an absolute true reality expressed as God, then to ignore and deny Him is utter folly.
If our worldview does form the foundation through which we see everything, it follows that anything that does not fit into that worldview is nonsensical, silly, even wrong and dangerous.
Can our worldview change? Yes. When we come face to face with a situation that our current worldview has no answer for, we either deny the evidence before us or modify our worldview. As an example, many of us grew up with the worldview that our dad was perfect, a shining knight, superman, and batman all rolled into one. But as we got older, we saw the chinks in his armor, and his cape got torn. Our worldview changed. We saw him for who he really was, good and bad, warts and all.
So what can we do when we encounter a worldview that is radically, even diametrically opposed to ours?
I see five options:
1. We can CONQUER, verbally, politically, or even physically, to ‘prove’ the truth of our position.
Unsatisfactory, for that just proves which one is stronger, not which one is right.
Ideally, we will use REASON and DISCOURSE to reach one of the other solutions.
2. We can CAPITULATE.
Unsatisfactory, the side that gives in will resent the other, while the side that ‘wins’ will despise the other.
3. We can COMPROMISE.
Somewhat better but still not great. Both sides must give something that is dear to them. They will still be looking to win.
4. We can COOPERATE.
Best option, when we look for ways that all sides are honored and included.
If we have exhausted reason and discourse, we can’t reach options two through four, and we avoid option one, perhaps the only thing left, at least for the present is option five:
5. Agree to disagree. Leave each other alone. You go your way and I’ll go mine. The temptation here is that while we agree to disagree, we really are just preparing for option one.
Perhaps the best we can do has best been expressed by the Apostle Peter:
“always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect….”
And always remembering what the Apostle Paul said:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….”
Well written, John. Would that more people would do so.